I have to admit the lofty concept behind these Sweet Potato Tacos with Smoked Almond Salsa is not my own – but it is my recipe. Here’s how it came to be.
I guess I’m missing Los Angeles. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t moved. I can see Hollywood from my house. I miss LA because I haven’t really been in it for 16 days. I look around the world, in the news, and on social media. I see people experiencing this pandemic differently than we are here in Los Angeles. I don’t know what to think. I also don’t know how to communicate what I’m feeling.
To combat this feeling of isolation eight of my friends and I participated in a ZOOM virtual cocktail party. It was fun. Not as fun as bellying up to the bar at Musso and Frank Grill, but surprisingly gratifying. Still, the experience made me hungry. Hungry for Los Angeles. For me, Wes Avila’s Guerrilla Tacos helps define what it means to be an Angeleno.
Guerrilla Tacos started as a food truck. They specialize in (you guessed it) tacos. I’ve certainly sung their praises before on this blog, so it’s no wonder that even in these hunkering down days of “social isolation” my thoughts turn to tacos.
Guerilla Tacos has recently replaced its food truck with a stationary restaurant, but I’d always patronized the taco truck. The truck moved around town and, in the pre-isolation days, there was only one day a week this truck was geographically friendly to Hollywood. I could never remember what day of the week that was so I was constantly popping into their website to check the schedule. While there I virtually devoured the daily menu as well.
Sweet Potato Tacos
Well, on one of these virtual taco runs I saw his version of Sweet Potato Tacos. I knew immediately I had to have one of these tacos. However, the one rule I have about living in Los Angeles is I never (ever) drive east in the middle of the day. Especially on an isolation day.
Here’s my simplified version. I can’t promise it’s anything like Wes Avila’s taco (his recipe can be found in his book or here). But I can promise you won’t have to break your social isolation to taste it. GREG
PS After I made my own version of his Sweet Potato Tacos I discovered that Guerilla Tacos now offers an Emergency Taco Kit. It’s available for pick up from the restaurant.
The recipe for Smoked Almond Salsa can be found on this blog at https://www.sippitysup.com/recipe/smoked-almond-salsa/
2 poundsweet potatoes(peeled and cut into 3/4‑inch dice)
2 tablespoonolive oil
1 teaspoonkosher salt
¼ teaspoonfreshly cracked black pepper
2–3 tablespoonunsalted butter
2 teaspoonfresh thyme leaves
10–12 (4‑inch) tortillas
smoked almond salsa(see recipe)
crumbled cotija cheese(to taste)
thinly sliced scallions(to taste)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
In a large bowl toss sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, tossing halfway, or until the sweet potatoes are tender and caramelized on the edges. Set the large bowl aside to use again once the potatoes are roasted.
While the potatoes roast, cut the butter into 2 or 3 pieces and place it in the large bowl you set aside for the potatoes. Add the thyme leaves along with the potatoes hot from the oven. Toss the mixture together until well coated with melted butter.
Serve the sweet potatoes immediately on tortillas topped with smoked almond salsa, cotija cheese, a sprinkle of sliced scallions, and lime wedges on the side (if using).
½ cupstemmed and chopped dried chiles(use a mixture of arbol, pasilla, ancho, and/or guajillo)
¼ cupchopped smoked almonds
½ poundroughly chopped tomatillos(husked)
½ cupchopped roasted red bell peppers(from a jar)
2 teaspoongarlic powder
½ teaspoonkosher salt
1 teaspoonred wine vinegar
Set a large cast-iron skillet with a lid over medium-low heat. Once warm add the oil and dried chiles.
Once they begin to brown and become fragrant (but before they start smoking) add the almonds and cook for another 30 seconds. Then add the tomatillos, roasted red bell peppers, water, garlic powder, and salt. Cover the skillet and let the mixture cook until softened; about 6 minutes.
Remove from heat. You may let the mixture cool or continue carefully while it’s still warm.
Scrape the chile-almond mixture into a blender and add vinegar. Blend until nearly smooth but retaining enough texture to be interesting. It should be the consistency of a milkshake adjust with a touch of water if necessary.
The salsa may be kept covered and refrigerated for up to one week.
Holy shit! Did you change up your website? It’s gorgeous! I thought someone had stolen your name, until I saw this post, with which I was familiar. And thank you again for sharing the cookbook with us. Chile Colorado is My July 1st post.
I coincidentally just made a sauce similar toy your almond salsa — but it didn’t have almonds. It had many of the other items, though, and a similar method. I used it as a bed for filet mignon, which I then topped with an avocado relish. So, two things: first, the leftovers are going to destined for a tortilla — thank you. And second, I can’t wait to make this, because I love almonds. I’m salivating just thinking about it.
I had a copy of Guerilla Tacos and ended up giving it away as a gift. Dumb move on my part. But not to worry, I have you right here. Actually have everything but the cotija… but I bet I could make a brilliant substitute. And this will be awesome with the tortillas I made early this morning! (Coincidence or divine providence?)
I miss Toronto too. My short bursts of grocery shopping have been stressful so I don’t even enjoy going out. This morning I walked 5 miles down to the lake and back, everyone kept the socially acceptable distance. I saw a couple of friends chatting on the way down, and they too were 6 feet apart. This isolation is making me very sad. The virtual video cocktail parties are awesome, they fool my mind into being with my dear friends for an instant, which makes me smile.
These tacos look wonderful, as does your blog (did I mention that already?). I’ve got everything but the sweet potato which I will pick up tomorrow (we try not to shop often). Stay safe, stay well. XOXO
Love the new simple, clean look. And these tacos? Love those too. It is surreal even from someone who doesn’t get out much. We are doing a virtual Seder on Zoom. Life is different but yet we are still connected. Take care.
Yes to these! What kind of tortillas are you using? Looks like pita in your excellent picture. I’m off to the Santa Monica farmers market which is a bit military like these past few weeks, but still full of the best food and most of my favorite farmers.